Regular system checks are needed to ensure peak performance and safety.
Just like a car, home solar systems need regular maintenance to ensure they are operating safely and at peak performance levels.
GEM Energy National Sales Manager David Gilles said home solar systems included very complex pieces equipment that needed to be properly maintained.
“It is recommended your system undergoes a health check every couple of years,” Mr Gilles said.
“Without that you don’t know if the system is performing at its optimum level and you are getting the best return on your investment.
“There are also safety checks that should be done regularly.”
For example, Mr Gilles said a check could reveal a system was producing up to 20% less power than it should.
“With a 6.6kW system, that could be in the region of 5kWh per day which could cost the owner up to $350 per year based on the average electricity costs in Queensland of 20–25 cents per kilowatt hour,” he said.
“Over the life of the system, this could have huge financial implications for the owner.”
Mr Gilles warned only qualified solar electricians should perform checks.
“Only electricians with a Clean Energy Council (CEC) solar licence should be working on the system,” he said.
“A normal electrician is not qualified and homeowners should definitely not be checking the system themselves.”
Solar system checks by qualified technicians cost about $300.
“This is a worthwhile investment considering the safety and financial implications of a system not up to standard,” Mr Gilles said.
If the panels are dirty or 'soiled', they should be cleaned by an experienced professional cleaner, not the homeowner.
“Soiling of the panels will decrease the performance of a system over time,” Mr Gilles said.
Homes in areas that have high levels of leaf litter or dust, such as northern or western Queensland, should consider having their panels checked every year.
Those in high rainfall areas with newer systems may not need to have their panels cleaned as regularly, but they should still undergo regular safety checks.
“Once again, any checking of panels should be done by a professional and not the homeowner,” Mr Gilles said.
Modern solar systems have 25-year warranties that guarantee the system must perform at least 90% efficiency for the first 10 years and 80% up to 25 years.
Mr Gilles said the degradation should be minimal over 25 years with good-quality panels.
The CEC website lists approved modules, inverters and batteries that meet Australian standards for solar and battery storage systems. The CEC recommends referring to the lists before buying any products.
“Buyers should choose a reputable supplier with a brick and mortar presence in Australia,” Mr Gilles said.
“Many solar panel and inverter suppliers have left the Australian market leaving homeowners stranded.”
Mr Gilles also recommended anyone who has bought a house with a solar system already installed should have it checked.
“If the system is 10 years old and it hasn't had a recent check, then you should get one done,” he said.
“If you have a system that was installed 10-15 years ago, it is very likely there is a high level of degradation of the panels and the system would not comply with current safety standards.
“In most cases, a solar system is going to generate two to three times more power than a house will consume in one whole day.
“So, you have an energy plant on your roof generating a lot of power that could potentially be a ticking timebomb because of the way it was installed.”
A check on your system will not only ensure it is operating safely and effectively, but it will also provide vital information, including the size and model of the system and details on the manufacturer.
That information can also tell you if the system is still under warranty, which the manufacturer holds.
“If it's a 10-year-old system, there is likely going to be a warranty on it, but the owner will never know that if they don’t get their system checked,” Mr Gilles said.
The information in this article has been prepared for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice or specific advice to any particular person. Any advice contained in the document is general advice, not intended as legal advice or professional advice and does not take into account any person’s particular circumstances. Before acting on anything based on this advice you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your objectives and needs.